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How to Find the Best Jeans for Your Body

January 24, 2023

Argh! That’s pretty much how I feel about finding the best jeans for me. What about you? It’s hard! But I promise you, it is doable. Not only will I help you determine the best jeans for your body shape and height, but I’ll help you shop for them, too. I’ve got lots of tips to help you find the right jeans and there’s even a subscriber freebie in the Printable Library for my daily or weekly email subscribers.

How to Find the Best Jeans for Your Body and Style

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My Fit Information for Perspective

Just because you will be seeing photos of me in some of my favorite jeans throughout this post, let’s get my fit information out of the way. You’ll want to keep this in mind as you look at how these jeans fit. I’m 5’8″ and weigh about 158. I generally wear a size 8 or 29 or 30 in jeans and pants. I have an hourglass shape and even proportions.

Colorful Casual Outfit for a Holiday Outing
vintage straight leg jeans // fitted flannel shirt in pink plaid // western booties // zip-up quilted vest // similar earrings

First, Get Your Head on Straight

First, let’s dispel a common myth. It’s just not true that other women find jeans easily. No one can wear every pair of denim out there. The truth is denim producers create jeans to fit all different body shapes and proportions. They actually know we are all different, so the best brands offer jeans that will a fit a variety of body shapes and sizes. That’s why I can wear some of the jeans by my favorite brands, such as Madewell, Mother, Fidelity Denim, Frame and even Talbots, but not all of them.

Wearing Chico's  So Slimming Girlfriend Jeans
Wearing Chico’s So Slimming Girlfriend Jeans (they run slightly large, have a lot of stretch, have a midrise; 28″ regular inseam; 26″ petite inseam; 31″ tall inseam) // 3/4 sleeve tee // white denim jacket // similar sneakers // necklace

So do not get discouraged when you try on jeans and they don’t fit right. And do not give up trying. All women have to try on a lot of jeans to find the right ones. When you try on a pair that doesn’t work for you it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the jeans and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It simply means those particular jeans were not made for you…but others were!

How to Wear a Coatigan this Winter
wearing the Sky High Rise Vintage Slim Jeans (fits true to size, wearing a tall but in my usual size) // coatigan // boots // sweater // necklaces // earrings

Having a positive attitude is really important when shopping for jeans. It puts you back in the driver’s seat and helps you navigate the process with more grace and decisiveness. Now, let’s check out the process!

Style Tips by Body Shape and Height

Before you start trying on jeans, however, it’s smart to do a little homework. First let’s consider these tips for selecting jeans that will fit and flatter your shape and height. I have no real experience shopping for a petite frame, but I do have some researched tips for you if you are petite.

Denim Fit Tips for Petites

If you are petite, you might want to shop jeans listed as ankle length or cropped for a full size fit. That’s a smart shopping hack some of the petite influencers I know use. But beware of actually wearing your jeans cropped, as that can make your legs look even shorter. You can wear ankle length jeans, but you’ll want to maintain good proportions by wearing a cropped length top or tucking your top in, even if just gently. Your goal is to elongate your legs visually.

Jeans for Petites

In the graphic above I shared other tips for shopping for and styling jeans if you have a petite frame. All of these graphics are downloadable in a PDF (if you are an email subscriber) through the Printable Library. Remember, the current code is always listed at the bottom of your daily and weekly emails.

A slimmer, straighter jean silhouette will elongate the legs nicely. A higher waistline will also help visually lengthen the legs. And of course if you can wear a heel with your jeans that will help even more. Otherwise, look for jeans that don’t have any decoration, interruptions or lines on them that would cut the leg short. For instance, I’d definitely stay away from these dip dye ankle jeans from Chico’s. In fact, I’m not really sure anyone should wear these. Hmm.

dip dye ankle jeans are a hard NO for petites // the Kick Out Crop Jean is a possibility with an inseam of 27″ but it also comes in petite sizes HERE // the Sculpting Pocket High Rise Straight Jean comes in petite sizing and is a smart choice

Denim Fit Tips for an Oval Shape

If you have an oval shape you want to avoid jeans that add detail right at the tummy or waist band. You can minimize your tummy with jeans that have a straight leg. And you can distract from your tummy area by looking for jeans with embroidery or detailing further down the leg.

Oval Shape Jean Fit Tips

A high waist jean may be a good idea because the front panel will hold your tummy in a bit. And an elasticized waist band or other jean with a flat front can help prevent adding extra bulk in this area. If you don’t feel comfortable tucking your top in to help with proportions, consider wearing a flowy, loose-fitting top over skinny or slim fitting straight jeans.

Jeans for Oval Shape
these wide leg jeans would work except the detailing at the waist will draw attention and add bulk here // the sculpt pull-on jeggings would work nicely under a flowy, loose-fitting top // but the straight leg jeans could be your most slenderizing

Denim Fit Tips for an Inverted Triangle

If your body is more narrow at the hips and wider at the shoulders, you have an inverted triangle shape. For more information about discerning your body shape, check out this post. But if you know you are an inverted triangle, you’ll want to avoid skinny and slim-fitting jeans because they will just make you look even more top heavy. Instead, choose jeans with a wider leg and more bulk at the hips. For instance, patch pockets may be your friend.

Denim Fit Tips for an Inverted Triangle

Lighter wash jeans will also help balance out the proportions between your broader shoulders and more narrow hips. And you can really rock white or ecru jeans. And the balloon shaped jeans like these will look great on you, giving you more of an hourglass shape.

no to the skinny jeans // rock the vintage wide leg crop jeans // add bulk at the hips with the button-fly edition jeans // wear the balloon jeans with confidence

Denim Tips for the Rectangle Shape

A rectangle shape is characterized by similar width in the shoulders, midsection and hips and or thighs. Whether you are a fuller sized H or a more narrow I shaped rectangle, you’ll want to try to create a little definition with your jeans, so look for denim that has some shape to it.

Denim Tips for the Rectangle Shape

A high waisted jean with your top tucked and a belt added could be a good look for you. You also might try jeans with a wide leg or bootcut, as these will add shape, too. Of course you’ll need to work your magic with the right top and accessories, too. To learn more about how to dress your shape – whatever it is – check out this blog post.

Denim Fit Tips for Rectangles
Depending on your proportions, the AG Alexxis high waist bootcut jeans could be a good choice; the ankle bootcut jean will add shape // the barely bootcut jeans will help create the appearance of hips

For you it’s not so much about the shape of the jeans as the proportions. Depending on your proportions, you’ll want to create the appearance of a waistline with the best rise for you. That’s the distance from the crotch to the waistband. More on that in a bit!

Denim Fit tips for Triangles

If your hips or thighs are significantly wider than both your shoulders and your waist, you likely have a triangle shape. That means you do need to be especially careful selecting your jeans. You want to steer clear of ornamentation or pockets at the hips and thighs. And you’re wise to stay away from wide or full leg jeans, which will only emphasize your triangle shape. You probably should also stay away from skinny jeans. I know a lot of women love their skinnies, but they only emphasize your hips and thighs rather than slimming them.

Denim Fit Tips for Triangles

Instead, look for dark wash jeans in straight or trouser silhouettes. Those will probably be the best jeans for your frame most of the time. However, you could also shop the demi boot or barely bootcut jeans, too. But the straight and trouser jeans will definitely help minimize your hips. And, while you can wear light wash and white jeans (especially in a column with a lighter colored top), you’ll look your best in darker wash denim. You’re also a good candidate for curvy fits, which many denim brands carry, such as Talbots and Madewell.

Jeans for Triangles
the Curvy Perfect Vintage Straight Jean (plus sizes) may work nicely // Talbots curvy fit straight leg jean in dark wash works great if you’re wider in the hips // if you want to wear a lighter wash, look for a relaxed straight leg jean

Denim Fit Tips for Hourglass

Generally an hourglass shape can wear most any silhouette of jeans. However, you’ll want to consider the areas where you want to draw focus and where you’d prefer to minimize. Focus on the ideal rise that allows you to tuck your top and emphasize that waistline, for instance. Generally you’ll probably want to stay away from low rise jeans unless you don’t mind emphasizing your hips.

Denim Fit Tips for Hourglass

Also pay attention to the inseam, choosing jeans that are the most flattering length for your frame. Consider your proportions and purchase accordingly. If you have even proportions or a high waist, you’ll want to choose high waisted jeans. Otherwise, a mid rise will generally work best for you.

Of course you can wear basic straight or slim fit jeans in most lengths (depending on your proportions and height), but you can also enjoy the tapered leg, the demi boot and boyfriend silhouettes.

Sculpting Pocket High Rise Straight Jeans In Ivory have a high rise // Wit & Wisdom Skyrise Barely Bootcut Jeans have a super high waist // Levi’s rib cage high waist ankle straight leg jeans

How to Shop for Jeans

Now that we have some tips based on our body shape and height so we can find the best jeans for our frame, let’s talk about how to go about shopping for jeans. Yes, there is a strategy…and it really works. If you are a subscriber, I have a handy chart for you to fill out in the printable library. Otherwise, you can always just jot down the information in the Notes section on your phone or in a pocket calendar.

  1. Find your favorite jeans in your closet right now. These are the jeans that feel and fit great and look good on you. Take a photo of you wear these jeans and keep it on your phone.
  2. Measure the rise: the distance in inches from the crotch to the waistband. Write that measurement down as your preferred rise if you like where those jeans hit you and how they feel.
General Tips for Shopping for Jeans
  1. Measure the inseam: the distance in inches from the hemline to the crotch. Write that measurement down and note if it is full length, ankle or crop. You’ll want to calculate the best inseam for you for a full length jean, ankle and crop (if desired) and for various heel heights you may wear with your jeans.
  2. Consider your body shape and proportions and the guidelines given for those. You can find more information about dressing your unique proportions in this blog post. Don’t know your proportions? Watch this video. Write those notes down.
  1. With that information, determine the best rise for you. Should you look for high rise, mid rise or low rise? But also specifically what number or number range are you looking for?
  2. Measure your waist at the place where you want the waistband of your jeans to sit. Write that circumference down.
  3. Determine the wash that will work best for your body and for your lifestyle. It’s smart to have a pair of dark wash jeans because they look dressier and can elevate a look. But lighter washes are trending and have their place, too. They look casual and chic. Choose what you like and what resonates with you, not what any fashion police in your life may tell you. Jeans should be fun! Yes, consider the tips above for the most flattering look, but you can always do other things to balance a less than optimal jean wash (think adding a third piece or wearing a tonal look).
General Tips for Finding the Right Jeans
  1. Note the places on the jeans where you don’t want to draw attention. These are places where you do not want fading, distressing, patches or other ornamentation.
  2. Make a Personalized Denim Shopping Guide with your waist measurement, preferred rise, preferred inseams, preferred washes and preferred silhouettes.
General Tips for Finding the Right Jeans
  1. Order jeans with those specifications. You may not find the “perfect jeans” to order, but do your best to order according to the specifications on your Personalized Denim Shopping Guide. I say “order” because it’s actually easier to get this information online than it is in the store. So as long as you order from places with a good return policy, you may do better to do your denim shopping online. That’s my personal preference, and I have additional reasons below. I generally order in multiple sizes until I learn a brand. And I always check the customer reviews and the product guide for additional information such as fabric content, stretchiness, fit and sizing helps.
  2. Try on LOTS of jeans. Take mirror selfies with the jeans styled the way you envision wearing them (with shoes and the right tops). Note fit details. Wear any contenders for an hour or so to determine wearability. Be sure to check out the rearview. If you’re ample or wide in the rear, pockets should not be too wide or too low. Ideally, back pockets should create a visual “lift.”
  3. Note the brands that seem to work best for you. Add those to your Personalized Denim Shopping Guide.
Personalized Denim Shopping Guide

Obviously this post could go on and on if I addressed every nuance of finding the right jeans for you. But with this information in your pocket – and truly, you need to keep it handy – I think you’ll find that shopping for the best jeans for you is a little easier. Yes, you’ll still have to try on lots of jeans. And yes, you’ll even try on jeans that meet all your specifications on paper and still don’t work on your body. That is frustrating, but it happens to all of us.

Wear Now Wear Later Fall Floral Blouse
wearing similar Talbots straight leg jeans

In the end, even if you’re a real jeans gal like I am, you probably could easily get buy with just a few pair that you absolutely love. Most manufacturers recommend washing your jeans as rarely as possible in cold water, turned inside out, and then laying them flat on a rack to dry. I’ve found if I follow those steps to take care of my denim – and I do – then my jeans can serve me well for several years.

Modern Polo with Wide Leg Jeans
wearing Joe’s Jeans the Mia // pullover

Right now, straight leg jeans, which are the most universally flattering silhouette, are very on trend. So if you only have one pair, that’s the silhouette I’d choose, probably in a mid to dark wash. But it’s also a good time to add boot cut, wide leg, trouser, relaxed fit or boyfriend jeans to your collection, too. I don’t think any of these will go out of style any time soon.

Classic Bootcut Jeans
same jeans in similar wash // same jeans in lighter wash

Current trends that will have less staying power include distressing, patches, sidelines and embroidery. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy or wear those, but that they may look dated sooner. I do expect the raw hems to remain in style indefinitely. And we’ll continue to see at least some degree of distressing in jeans for the long term, too.

Wearing Camel and Grey for Fall 2022
jeans by Mother, no longer available in grey

What About Denim Brands?

Because denim is one of those things that we seem to do well right here in the United States, I really like to support American made jean brands when possible. Most of them – maybe all of them that I know about – practice low water usage practices and source locally, too. They pay fair wages and have safe work environments. I like that.

Styling Grey Jeans and a Rails Plaid Shirt
flare leg jeans sold out (more economical option)// plaid shirt // grey t-shirt // Elisa necklace // Veronica hoops // cuff bracelet // similar sneakers (more economical option) // similar crossbody

I do find that you absolutely – within reason – get what you pay for when it comes to denim. I won’t be paying a thousand dollars for a pair of jeans, but I do find that premium denim really does fit, flatter and wear better than lesser quality denim. That said, I don’t have a problem paying a lower price and getting less quality either, especially when I’m buying what may be a trend that goes out of style soon or that I simply lose interest in.

So I’ll wrap up by linking you to some of my favorite denim sources. Jeans inventory changes so rapidly, it will hardly do me any good to link you to particular jeans (other than those I’ve already linked above). So I’ll simply share links to the places where I start when shopping for jeans:

If you’re an email subscriber don’t forget to grab your printable guide HERE. Use the code always located at the bottom of your daily and/or weekly emails.

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Blessed for My Day

I don’t just want to make good decisions; I want to make wise choices. That means I acknowledge that I won’t always find the answers by doing a positives and negatives comparison chart, asking around or searching self-help books. And I won’t find the path I need to take by following my heart either. In fact, the Bible says our hearts can be quite deceptive and lead us astray.

Instead, if I want to do the wise thing I must always seek the Lord. He gives wisdom generously. But that doesn’t mean He just pours it out freely either. I’ve heard it said that God holds wisdom in a closed hand. I think that analogy makes sense. He opens that hand and shares His wisdom only when we seek Him and acknowledge that on our own we are desperately lacking. Then God graciously gives wisdom to the woman who humbly comes before the Lord asking for His divine and trustworthy guidance.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. ~ James 1:5

xoxo, Kay
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25 thoughts on “How to Find the Best Jeans for Your Body

    1. Make sure you enter it exactly as is, no extra spaces and all caps. But it does work. You also may need to clear your cache if you’ve tried multiple times.

  1. Thank you for the most thorough post on jeans ever, Kay! I am an ultra petite (really short) hourglass with too much on top, so I need balance. Jeans that are straight or have some width on the bottom look better on me, but in the winter the hems will invariably turn into snow plows! Hefty boots worn with leggings or skinnies are my solution to flatter my body shape in snowy weather.

  2. I saw your petite recommendations but not sure if they would work for me. I’m 5 ft tall, short-waisted, long legs, hourglass or slightly pear-shaped figure. I usually feel mid-rise work best because if they go up any higher, there’s not much space between the waistline and breasts. I also don’t tuck in because that seems to emphasize my shorter torso. Can you comment on this? Should I be reconsidering my options?

    1. Yes, stick with the mid rise. All of the info in today’s blog post is really contingent on your proportions. And it sounds like you are addressing yours correctly. Stick with it! 🙌🏻

    1. Yes, I love Gloria Vanderbilt jeans too! I need a long/tall and I just looked online – Kohls is out of all in tall sizes. Hopefully, they will restock in Spring.

  3. Great information! Thank you so much for outlining everything so clearly for your readers. I will be using it when I shop for jeans in the future. Enjoy your day! 🙂

  4. Hi Kay! I am petite (5′ 2″) with a size 10-12 apple shape. I have found that taking mirror selfies of my outfits can be quite enlightening! After taking the selfies, I’ve decided that I look better in a straight or bootcut jean to balance out my larger top area. Since I’m also somewhat long waisted, I need more of a mid rise. The current high-rise jeans are just too high! I’ve had good luck with Talbots “at the waist” petite jeans as well as NYDJ petite Marilyn and Barbara bootcut styles. Although NYDJ recommends sizing down, I find that my usual size works best for me. I have noticed, though, that even petite jeans are getting too long for me and need hemmed an inch or more!

    Thank you for your in-depth blog post. I look forward to hearing from you in my inbox!

  5. I sat down for lunch and was perusing my emails! Funny thing….. at first glance at your email —
    Find the Best Jeans for YOU!
    I seriously thought it said “Find the best James for you”!!! Certainly got my attention!! I thought WHAT???

    Maybe it was your Valentine’s blog the other day, maybe it’s the fact I’m celebrating my wedding anniversary this week, I don’t know! But I had you blogging on how to find yourself a James today!!!😂😂😂 and I was thinking, after 50 years, I already got mine!! 😂😂 But all that said, within that context, I dare say it’s easier to find those perfect JEANS than JAMES!!! 😂😂😂

    1. Hahaha! No, you have to find your own perfect James! I’ve found mine, but I’m not sharing and I have no idea how I got him!

  6. Thanks for the printable guide, Kay! It’s going into my “wardrobe planning” folder. I’m efforting to build a good wardrobe that works for my real life, and I find these visuals to be so helpful.
    A question – Where on my ankle/foot/shoe should the hem fall on straight-cut jeans? I wear flats, slip-on sneakers or lace-ups, and low heeled boots almost all of the time. Beginning in the fall, I’ve added only straight cut jeans to my closet. I’m 5′ 4′-ish, small-medium build, a triangle shape, trying to embrace the fact that a straight or slightly boot cut would balance my figure better than a slimmer leg. I’m not loving the way these jeans look and I think the problem is somewhere around the hemline. I love the look of straight legs with a bit of a heel or more pointed toe, so perhaps the issue is with my choice of shoes. Help?!?

    1. Hi Melanie, I’m sorry I didn’t get to cover all of this. Just too much info! But ideally your full length jeans shoe hit the top of your shoe, whatever that is, and create one small break or bend at the front of the leg. But really anything goes these days with lengths. Since ankle and cropped lengths are trending, you can, of course, wear your jeans at the ankle bone and look very on trend. But if you’re wanting your jeans to look full length, I’d say top of foot with a soft bend in the front of the fabric (at the most – in other words, there doesn’t HAVE to be a bend). A little bit of heel or even platform always helps the appearance of jeans, in my opinion, especially for a petite.

  7. Thank you for all this information. What about fit? What is too tight or too loose? It seems that with all the spandex in denim now there are a lot of horizontal pulls across the legs of the jeans and “smile” lines at the crotch. Is that an indication of needing a different size or shape, or is it just to be expected? Maybe how jeans should fit is another post for another day.

    1. Hi Mary, Yes, I certainly could have gone on and on with additional information. Fit, length, and more. To some degree these things are really about personal preference. I don’t like my jeans tight at all, and sometimes I end up with jeans that are too big for that reason. But you’re right, we don’t want there to be a stretch across the front that creates that nasty grin and we don’t want them so tight that they hug curves and bulges too much. I find that good jean brands are much better than they were a few years ago about creating jeans with just the right amount of stretch to be comfortable without stretching out. Honestly, that’s one of the biggest differences in premium denim and the lesser quality. premium denim has a nice amount of stretch to allow for good fit without stretching out and gaping as the day goes on.

  8. Hi Kay, I love your blog and read it every day. Thank you for this wonderful article about blue jeans. My question is I’m 5’2 and short waisted with a muffin top around my waistline. What would you recommend for me as far as blue jeans? Thank you in advance for any suggestions you may have.

    1. I’d suggest wearing mid rise jeans with tops that skim the body, but are not too long. You probably don’t want to tuck your shirt, but you don’t want a long top hanging over your jeans either since you are petite. So even if you have to have tops hemmed, that will be your best bet. However, these days we see so many cropped tops that it is definitely easier to find shorter tops.

  9. Hi Kay, I am condsidering the Wit and Wisdom dark slim straight jean with the raw hem, and was wondering what you thought? You wore them in a post quite a while ago and I thought they looked great on you. I don’t see you reaching for them in your “what I wore” and was wondering if you didn’t care for them i.e do they stretch out a lot?. I know you have a lot of great jeans to choose from. Anyway just wanted your thoughts before I buy.


    1. Hi Louise. You’re right, those are not my favorite jeans. But for the price they are very good ones. They don’t stretch out with wear, but they’re just not as soft and comfortable as my more premium denim.

  10. Loved this article. I saved it and for the third time I’m reading thru it. Great advice. I’m petite at 5’2 and trying on jeans can be so discouraging sometimes. But I took your advice and suggestions and I found a pair from loft petite that fit me perfectly! Thank you! Your breaking it down gave me a better vision of what to look for and to stop trying to wear what I can’t!!! Thank you!!

    1. Great to hear Tracy. I know it just helped me so much when someone along the way told me that EVERYONE has to try on lots of jeans to find the right ones and that none of us should expect to be able to wear everything in a store. That’s not healthy thinking for us and it’s not really fair to the stores either. I always feel a little sad for retailers when I see women railing about a piece clothing not fitting them correctly as thought EVERYTHING in a store should fit their body. That just doesn’t make sense when you think about it, but women sure can get nasty about it in the reviews. Anyhow…enough of my rant! I’m glad you found some jeans you love!🥰

  11. Great post! I am a jeans junkie, and I like all styles. But I know I can’t wear all of them well! I have all different priced jeans, but I always keep the better quality ones and end up getting rid of the others, But to save money, sometimes I go to a consignment shop and find a better quality brand. Thanks for the printable sheet – having those measurement will be very helpful.

  12. Great article Kay. It’s frustrating buying jeans especially with the vanity sizing. I’ve always been a 4 petite. Now I am having to go to a 2p. Another problem is the stretching out. I don’t have a lot in the rear so if it stretches out it looks like I have a dirty diaper. Lol. I ordered Macy’s NY &Co wide legs jeans and I have to return them because they stretched out a lot while trying them on. Yet a bootleg jean from same company is great. No stretching out. The thing I like about Macy’s is they do make a 28 inseam.

    I have been wearing straight leg jeans forever. I wore skinny leg jeans but didn’t really like them. They made my thighs look bigger. Lately I am loving bootleg jeans and want to try a wide leg if it’s proportioned to my body. I ordered a wide leg from Loft. Hopefully it will be a keeper.

    Do you think it’s a good idea to try to shrink jeans in hot water? I have two jeans I wish I could shrink because I like them. One is expensive NYDJ and the other one cheap. I’d like to know if anyone has tried it

    1. Hi Terri. I wouldn’t ever wash my jeans in hot water because it’s not good for the other fibers besides cotton like Lycra and Spandex that most jeans have these days. That will actually harm those fibers and cause the jeans to stretch out more. I’m not trying to encourage you to spend more for jeans than you’re comfortable with, but I will say that the jeans that tend to stretch out with wear usually are the cheaper ones. I’d look for jeans with a composition of about 90–95% cotton, a small percentage of polyester and 1-2% elastane. I also never put my jeans in the dryer because it also damages the elastane fibers.